Are we really going to let ourselves be duped into this solar panel rip-off?
Plans for the grid feed-in tariff suggest we live in southern California. And at £8.6bn, this is a pricey conceit with little benefit
Those who hate environmentalism have spent years looking for the definitive example of a great green rip-off. Finally it arrives, and nobody notices. The government is about to shift £8.6bn from the poor to the middle classes. It expects a loss on this scheme of £8.2bn, or 95%. Yet the media is silent. The opposition urges only that the scam should be expanded.
On 1 April the government introduces its feed-in tariffs. These oblige electricity companies to pay people for the power they produce at home. The money will come from their customers in the form of higher bills. It would make sense, if we didn't know that the technologies the scheme will reward are comically inefficient.
......So who is opposing this lunacy? Good question. The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have lined up to denounce the government for not being generous enough. The only body to have called this right so far is the loathsome TaxPayers' Alliance, but nobody listened because it has cried wolf too often.
There appears to be a cross-party agreement to squander the public's money. Why? It's partly because many Tory and Lib Dem voters hate big, efficient windfarms, and this scheme appears to offer an alternative. But it's mostly because solar panels accord with the aspirations of the middle classes. The solar panel is the ideal modern status symbol, which signifies both wealth and moral superiority, even if it's perfectly useless.
If people want to waste their money, let them. But you and I shouldn't be paying for it. Seldom has there been a bigger public rip-off; seldom has less fuss been made about it. Will we try to stop this scheme, or are we a nation of dupes?